Although I come from eastern Ohio, not technically Appalachia, I relate so much to what you wrote. My immediate family survived the collapse of the American industrial economy through higher education and luck.
Even with education and luck, my mother struggled enormously before finding economic stability in late middle age.
Many of the women in my extended family are dirt poor, even though they work much harder than people who hold down “good jobs" care to understand.
There’s an increasingly gaping economic divide in our country that makes working multiple jobs for tiny wages obligatory just for survival.
As you point out, it always seems like women are expected to do this, to sacrifice for their families and children, to be carers no matter what.
Men are praised as adventurous and daring when they take chances, even if they fail. Women are stigmatized and held up as actual failures.
And through it all, nobody seems to acknowledge that quality of life in the United States for working people has been getting steadily worse for a long time.
Nobody seems to realize there’s no escaping poverty when poverty becomes the norm for working people.
No matter what kind of hero tales we try to tell ourselves.